Ladies' Home Journal published a feature story in its latest issue about anti-LGBT bullying and a parent’s role in teaching acceptance, opening up this important conversation to a new audience.
LHJ released the issue on Monday, and the eight-page piece is titled “Gay Teens Bullied to the Point of Suicide,” by Kenneth Miller. It addresses the recent suicides by LGBT and LGBT-perceived teenagers, and offers suggestions for helping troubled youth, even when parents are deeply religious or find it difficult to support LGBT identity. “As young adults, gay kids from highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide,” Miller warns, encouraging parents to be good listeners. “Small changes can yield big results—children from families that are only moderately rejecting have significantly fewer problems. Even parents who can’t be fully accepting can find ways to be supportive. … For both liberal and conservative opponents of antigay bullying, it boils down to the issue of basic human dignity.”
The article also addresses anti-bullying initiatives in schools, churches, and the community. “We don’t need to agree with one another,” Miller quotes one pastor, “but we have to respect one another’s dignity.” He clarifies that the most effective way to reduce bullying in schools is by implementing specific policies that protect students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and explains that these protections are essential even for students that are not LGBT.
We also praise the magazine for addressing one of the most common misconceptions about anti-bullying measures. Miller writes:
Many people feel a blanket "respect for all" statement is enough, but research shows such policies aren't as effective at protecting students from antigay bullying.
This is a crucial fact to share with any audience, especially as many conservative organizations have pushed for broad anti-bullying protections, but against specifically protecting LGBT students. Studies have proven that these methods simply do not solve the problem, and it's something everyone should be aware of.
Although the article does not try to actively eliminate homophobic attitudes by parents or in social settings, it provides some suggestions for those who might otherwise be even more unsupportive towards LGBT youth. Furthermore, even though it gives space to religious groups that are not necessarily inclusive of LGBT individuals, such an approach may actually be the most effective, in reaching its readership. LHJ’s Mission Statement states that it “is a unique lifestyle magazine dedicated to the millions of American women who want to look good, do good and feel great.” The magazine’s circulation reaches close to 4 million people—mostly women—and attracts a range of politically moderate to conservative readers. Therefore, the author may help create a more gradual shift in opinion among readers that are not particularly familiar with LGBT people or issues.
While we'd rather no parent tell their child (as a psychology professor in the article suggested would be acceptable) "In our religion we don't really agree with this..." GLAAD strongly supports the coverage of anti-LGBT bullying by all forms of media in order to reach the broadest possible audience, and applauds Ladies' Home Journal for its effort to address such a pressing topic.